This chapter introduces John Wesley’s emphasis on the centrality of holiness for the Christian life, and particularly his insistence that holiness was likely to happen within the context of a supportive community. The band meeting and the class meeting are both defined and situated within Wesley’s understanding of “social holiness.” It is argued that the band meeting was the most important context within early Methodism that focused on growth in holiness. Turning to the popular experience of the band meeting, the introduction argues that Wesley intentionally sought to persuade eighteenth century women and men to follow him and enact his particular “method” for “spreading scriptural holiness.” The broader significance of the band meeting for eighteenth-century British society is discussed, with particular focus on the way that the band meeting provided a new form of social intimacy in a rapidly changing society.
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